By Maria Grzywa —
The term “drag artist” or “drag performer” usually refers to people who dress in clothing that is opposite their gender for the purpose of performing, whether singing or lip-synching, dancing, participating in events such as gay pride parades, drag pageants or at venues such as cabarets and discotheques.
University of Wisconsin–Stout’s Great Hall in the MSC was transformed into such a discotheque Oct. 21 for the Fall 2015 Amateur Drag Show. Hosted by GSA, the Drag Show was a huge success.
“Seeing something so massive, so many people enjoying themselves and cheering and screaming, all of the love and support that was going on was absolutely mind blowing,” said GSA Events Coordinator Jacob Doherty.
“My role was to communicate with performers, committees and event services to direct people into helping with the production of the show,” said Doherty.
The event showcased 22 performers total ranging from Menomonie locals, to students, to Stout professors.
Tamara Brantmeier, a professor in the Art and Design program at Stout expressed interest in the show after Doherty reached out to Julie Miller with an idea of getting professors and faculty to perform. “Tamara is already excited to possibly come back and perform again, considering the positive reaction she received from a crowd of students that really do look up to and admire her,” said Doherty.
From classic Broadway numbers such as “Popular” from Wicked, to 2015 pop songs such as “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes, the Drag Show had something for everyone attending.
The event took weeks of preparation on behalf of a GSA events committee of 12. Preparation was an ongoing process that started last semester. Doherty was in charge of reserving the venue and contacting both tech and event services for their help in the show. He started selecting performers and arranging the lineup at the beginning of the year.
“Once school started, I began the selection process for the performers and had a strong committee that took on roles such as stage management, photography and publicity,” said Doherty.
Performers were required to rehearse their own material on their own time and create choreography on their own. Additionally, performers were tasked with the time-consuming role of getting ready the day of the show. Some performers took up to five hours in advance to prepare for the show, including hair and makeup time, as well as arranging costumes.
Technical and event setup began three days before the show.
GSA uses the Drag Show as a fundraising opportunity. It is encouraged for audience members to tip the performers. Money raised at the event goes towards GSA’s funds, which in turn mainly sponsor other campus events.
The money raised will also go towards putting the organization on the road to Purdue University next spring for another year at MBLGTACC, which is an annual convention for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Students who attended the show thoroughly enjoyed the comradery and student to student support evident here at Stout, which made the months, weeks, days and hours of preparation worth it.
“It’s that type of reaction that lets me know that all of the work was well worth it. Working with all of the performers and a spectacular audience is an experience I don’t want to give up and definitely an experience I will never forget,” said Doherty.
There is expected to be another Amateur Drag Show in spring; however no date has been set.